While HHC has been shown to bind to the CB1 receptor, it binds with a weaker affinity than THC, which has normally been an indication that it is not as intoxicating as typical THC. The confusion seems to be that HHC has three chiral centers, which means that there are actually three different forms of HHC. Each of these forms is called an enantiomer and each enantiomer is determined by which of the three chiral centers the HHC binds. If it binds to the first one, this enantiomer will activate the CB1 receptor.
If it binds to the second chiral center, that enantiomer will activate the CB2 receptor. And if it binds to the third chiral center, it won't be able to activate any of the receptors. The studies on HHC are still in their infancy and nothing has been confirmed as to whether or not HHC will appear on a drug test. Retailers and manufacturers of HHC also argue that HHC is legal because it is naturally present in cannabis pollen and hemp seeds, which qualifies it as a natural extraction derived from hemp.
HHC is short for hexahydrocannabinol and is a more stable hydrogenated form of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The first time HHC was created semisynthetically in this way was when chemist Roger Adams hydrogenated Delta-9 THC in 1944. Therefore, all the HHC available on the market is obtained through synthetic procedures in the laboratory, mainly through the conversion of THC. Active HHC will bind to cannabinoid receptors and produce effects in the same range as Delta-8 THC and hemp-derived Delta-9 THC. HHC manufacturers make it in a laboratory using a chemical process (hydrogenation) that extracts more HHC than is normally found in hemp.
The safety of HHC is generally unknown, but there have been no reported cases of overdose or death from the use of HHC or its products. In short, the best way to think about HHC is that it's just another form of THC (with extra hydrogen and one less chemical bond). Since then, HHC hasn't received much attention; that is, until recently, when manufacturers began selling it as an alternative to THC. The structural similarity of HHC to THC is probably what allows the compound to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors (remember that cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors work in sync), and it may also be the reason why it produces effects similar to those of THC.
James Stephens, vice president of innovation at Creo, a biotechnology company specializing in cannabinoids, has seen similar arguments that HHC is not metabolized into 11-hydroxy THC. HHC binds to the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB), but with a weaker affinity than THC, and produces intoxicating and psychoactive effects, but much less than THC. Others, however, state that HHC is less potent than delta-8 and that high doses are needed for HHC to produce results similar to those of other types of THC. HHC seems to have a strong affinity for endocannabinoid receptors and, as a result, is believed to have a much higher level of efficacy than THC.